Picture of How To String a Guitar
I was surprised to find that there aren't any instructables on how to string a guitar. I figured i might as well do it!
I got some info about stringing guitars from The last time i used that site was the last time i stringed my guitar, which was almost a year ago! and i play this thing everyday!

look at this picture so you can familiarize yourself with the parts of a guitar if you don't know them already!

Things you'll need:

@ Wire cutters
@ A string winder
@ A pack of guitar strings
@ A guitar tuner
@ A guitar

Step 8 should be step 7. i edited my instructable, and now i can't rearrange it for some reason!
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Step 1: Loosen all the Strings

Picture of Loosen all the Strings
Start out by loosening ALL of the strings. If you strung them right in the first place, you should be turning the tuners for the bass strings (the three largest and closest strings to you) and the treble strings (the three thinner strings furthest away from you) to the right to loosen the strings.

If you don't have on already, string winders really come in handy!
when my parents bought me my first guitar, it came in the pack. They're only 25 cents to a dollar depending on where you go. It's a good investment if you break your strings a lot.
guitarfan4 years ago
hmm dude you can see on your string windner a smal semicircle hole on a side tha is made for that so you dont screw up your pegs they arnt that cheap lol
actually they are only like 60 cents each but yeah not the best to pull them out
fordf150man3 years ago
although you dont wanna cut the strings short for a couple days to let them set and after you tune them the first time give them a light tug and retune but very good instructable
Chainslaw4 years ago
Adjust the truss rod in the neck before you even think of sanding the saddle. It can be undone much quicker. (Also apparently you're supposed to do it in that order if you're setting up a guitar.)
What you do to improve or change the playability will depend on the current state of the guitar. If the neck - viewed along its length from the saddle to the nut - is slightly curved up, this is probably OK and the truss rod shouldn't be tightened to lower the action, as the neck could end up hogged. The tension in the rod only counteracts string tension to achieve an ideal neck shape/profile. In this case where the neck shape is ideal/OK and the action still too high when the strings are fully tensioned, lowering the saddle would be the way to go, I reckon. In the case where the neck's noticeably bent upwards to the nut, then tightening the rod would be the first thing to do followed by any adjustment to the saddle to get the action according to preference.
Chainslaw4 years ago
Your tuner is set to 441. Are you aware?
Chainslaw4 years ago
D'addarios are very nice, especially their coated strings. My friend and I tried Martin coateds and we both had breakages within a few months.
mrmerino4 years ago
maybe you should use needle nose pliers to put out the bridge pins instead of wire cutters?
arionisa5 years ago
A few things I have found over the years. 1. Especially if you are going to be playing "for real" in a short period you do NOT want to loosen all the strings. Do one string at a time, start to finish. The tuning of the strings depends upon the tension on the neck. If you loosen all the strings, put on new ones, then start tuning, what happens is that with every string you tune, more tension gets put on the neck, bowing it, and every string you have already tuned goes flat. It can take between 3-7 tunings before they all stay in tune doing it that way. Better if you do each string by itself, remove the low E, put the new one on, tug a few times and tune, tug a few more times and tune again, then move to the "A" and repeat until you've done all the strings. At this point, get your heaviest gauge pick and "hammer" a few chords, then re-tune and repeat. It takes about 1/2 the time of replacing all strings at once then trying to get them all to stay tuned. I have done this a number of times just hours before a concert and had no trouble with my guitar (6 or 12 string) going out of tune on me even after an hour of playing. 2. In step 3 you mention putting strips of paper under the saddle. While that would work just fine for an electric ... or for an electric acoustic when plugged in, it will reduce the overall volume and tonal quality when playing straight acoustic. The saddle is what transfers the vibration of the strings to the bridge/bracing and thus to the soundboard. Strips of paper, being soft and cushiony (compared to the bone ((quality guitars)) or hard plastic ((not so quality guitars)) of the saddle) tend to absorb and muffle the vibration of the strings and can make a great guitar sound like a cheap-o. Better to buy a new saddle (they're not that expensive) and carefully, VERY carefully, sand it down to where it needs to be. If you can't afford even the small cost of a new saddle, then once you have your slivers of paper, soak them cyanoacrylate (superglue) and attach them to the saddle (try not to attach your fingers while you are at it). The super glue will thicken them up a bit, so when you are done you will have to (VERY carefully) sand them back down to the proper height. The hardened cyanoacrylate will transfer vibration almost as good as bone saddle will and you won't lose/muffle the sound the way you would with just plain strips of paper. Other than those few minor things, I love your post, although I was always taught 2-3 wraps for all strings ... then again, I have always guessed at where to start to get the right number of wraps and have had anywhere from 1 (low E) to 10 (high E) and never really noticed a lot of difference. With your post, I can now get a consistent number of wraps every time, something I have never accomplished in over 20 years.
I'm 72, and eggshell portrait artist and painter. But am going to give this a try. thanks for all. Texaslady
 Good original post, and excellent tweak, arionisa! Thanks from my students, too..
lde475 years ago
Congratulations. Very nice photos. They do make a big difference especially for beginners.
i find your views offensive and i am highy intlerant of others music is not allowed!
You should wind the string before cutting them. Put the string through the machine head first then measure off the same distance as you do before your cut it and then wind it. You also want to always make sure they wrap down under the previous wrap. This keeps it close to the nut. After you have wound them take your side cutters and lightly pinch and pull up (using the to of the key as leverage) as you cut pulling it tight to the key. :)
To make the ball of the string slide up the pin easier you should sand the end of the pin very slightly so it's a bit rounded. It looks like your pins are already but for a brand new acoustic they might not be. :)
If you boil the wound strings they sound good as new. I know, it sounds weird but it works. They gather a lot of grime, mainly from your hands, and when you boil them they sound new again. It is good if you're on a budget and can't afford new strings. I also agree with lock winding. I just learned about it after playing for 20 or so years. It does help with tuning stability.
argh strings are so expensive!
At Guitar Center, Ernie Ball strings are like 50 cents per string.
Guitar strings are expensive? $10-20 a pack is amazing. CELLO strings are expensive, sah. You'd be lucky to get a pack of crappy ones for $90.
alvincredible (author)  fancypenguin8456 years ago
i know :-( sigh.
mkkrushmt6 years ago
awesome instructable... one thing though, is that if you play your guitar every day a string change every month or two is necesary if you want to get good sound, because after a lot of use, strings die. whoch is why i love elixir, they last really really long funny though i dont like d'adarrio at all...
painhertz7 years ago
If your guitar has a floating bridge (like most of my archtop jazz guitars) you'll want to replace the strings individually to avoid moving the bridge and ruining your setup and intonation.
i have a prs with a floating bridge (i think) and i accidentally made that mistake when restringing it for the first time, didnt mess it up though which was good...
Noodle936 years ago
Man, I got a string winder with my acoustic guitar, then threw it away because I didn't know what it was ;(
thats a shame, a couple of weeks ago i bought a string winder with a wire cutter on the other end, i think it was a planet waves product... whatever it is, the clippers are awesome...
JulianT6 years ago
can you restring a guitar with used strings?
alvincredible (author)  JulianT6 years ago
hmm i'd not advise it but i've definitely done it. haha avoid using strings with kinks in them. or horribly overused ones :D
nice guitar :)
atmcneil6 years ago
Most string winders have a notch that doubles as pin lifter, too.
lasersage7 years ago
Good on you alvincredible, about time someone showed those stringless fools how to get back in the game. Rather than using wire cutters to losen the string peg, my string winder has a notch out of it, just the right size for getting round the head of the peg. Yours may do to, it took me ages to work out what it was for, but sure gets those pegs out easy. Also, I guess everyone does it differently, but I often change one string at a time, helps keep things in tune nicely - plus less stress cycles on the neck. Obviously with your method you get a good oppurtunity to scrub the old finger gak off the fret board. Lemon oil is great for helping get off finger gak and preserving the wood (check what type of wood you have though, it may not always be suitable!). Sometimes I overtune - tighten all strings a semitone over normal tuning and leave it an hour or two. Then when you tune back to E, you don't end up with a week of strings stretching into position. Finally as a warning to first time stringers, once you've fed the string through the machine head and tightened it, you should never reposition it. If the string takes a kink, and then you string it again, it'll almost definately snap on the kink, man they sting if they whip you. Maybe I oughta write some guitar lessons for first timers, probably come in handy.
alvincredible (author)  lasersage7 years ago
hey i do have a notch in my string winder! haha interesting.. i've broken too many pins in my day :-) thanks for the info, friend. i never expected this to be on the homepage either! i just posted it last night at like...2am ahah
alvincredible (author)  alvincredible7 years ago
also, i use to do it one string at a time for tension's sake, but i don't know i've been needing to clean my guitar, and i think my guitar has that bar running thoruhg the neck. I guess it all just depends on the guitar you have ahha. and i was sad when i messed up on the 2nd string :-( all i could do was leave it like you said ahha oh sad day
Actually, you have a truss rod (that bar through the neck) and you can take a look at it on top of the head of your guitar. If you look where your tuning pegs are, there's a black cover with screws in it. Take out those screws and you'll probably see some metal in there, like a nut that's threaded. The inside of that nut is where the allen key would go, but I wouldn't suggest messing w/ it unless you know what you're doing. I've done a few truss rod repairs, where some schmuck thought he'd like a little lower action by messing with his truss rod. Funny thing is, he screwed it up (by over tightening), and I had to bend it back into place. That alone took about two weeks to put the neck back in place without severely warping his fretboard. Or you can over tighten the neck and strip the threads in on the nut. That takes drilling into the neck a little bit to fix it, usually. Either way, way to expensive to try without the proper knowledge.
If you are playing a steel string guitar (which you are), you can pretty much guarantee that your instrument has a truss-rod running down the neck. Classical guitars (with nylon strings) don't tend to have a truss-rod, from my understanding. The tension on the guitar is greater with steel strings than nylon. Most modern truss-rods are adjustable by an Allen key. Next time you re-string your guitar, look in the sound hole at the base of the neck. You should be able to see the hole for the rod.
I was going to make that point too. You have a picture there of your string winder. The little notchy thing and the end is for pulling pins. that'll probably save you from breaking anymore by using you're wire cutters.
blugyblug6 years ago
What about making an -ible on stringing Nylon guitars? Because Nylon and Steel string guitars are completely different at the bridge and head
bob.smitty6 years ago
i don't know what the taylor site says (i don't own any taylors) but i really doubt it tells you to take all the strings at once. everything i've been taught over time is to replace the strings one at the time to avoid releasing all the pressure on the neck. old T-shirts are great to keep the grunge of your axe. i keep several pieces in my case, and wipe the guitar down after playing, in particular my martin auditorium, which is not lauqered. that way you don't get baby dust bunnies or grunge/hands oils build up. i see you've been schooled on the peg removal technique, but i will add to it. it's not the pressure that holds the string in place, it's physics. if done properly, you can pull the peg with your fingers when the string is loose. tap the peg lightly when you replace the string, and make sure the ball does not sit on the tip of the peg. the string ball cocks the peg in the hole and keeps the whole thing tight. oh, and i too have the same tuner... and, of course others (who doesn't?) :)
bustedit6 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
Electric guitars usually don't have bridgepins. Instead, there are holes on the underside that srings go through.
well, since this ible is about an acoustic, i guess it doesnt frkn matter, does it? ...unless you were just offering extraneous information to be helpful, then it's appreciated.
i got the same tuner but white
civiso6 years ago
if you play everyday, you need to re-string about once every month or two. nice guitar by the way. -I have an ARIA acoustic and I love it!
alvincredible (author)  civiso6 years ago
hahah i love my geetr too. I just snapped my string yesterday ahha so I gotta restring it again :D
clark civiso6 years ago
if you play it everyday, many people will say every two weeks, for an acoustic guitar.
this is great! it used to take me almost an hour to change strings, and first time I tried it this way was like 20 min, and it looks much neater. thanks so much
LIKE OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i HAVE THE EXACT SAME TUNER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I JUST LOVE IT DONT YOU?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!?!!?!?!
me too
transmothra7 years ago
I read this thinking that even the most basic things in the universe can never be overunderstood, and i was right - after 20 years of playing the guitar, now i finally know a good way to remember how much slack/length to leave to ensure a rational number of windings. Thank you!

Also, there's a technique where you loop the string around itself when you first start winding up. It's called "lock-winding" and although i couldn't find any articles with pics, it's explained here, for example. I've tried it and it really does help tuning stability. I rarely use it, since it makes me nervous to cross the string like that, even though i never had any breakage problems.
Even though I already know how to do this, this is a great Instructable that could help many people. Great pictures, great detail, nice job.
alvincredible (author)  GorillazMiko7 years ago
thanks! i was surprised that no one else made one for this but there are a million how-to's on guitar related things!
You can also get a string winder that fits in a cordless screwdriver or (low torque) drill. Makes winding strings even faster, just be careful not to got too far or else--snap!
csalzman7 years ago
If you don't have a string winder you can also use a pair of pliers but wrap the pins in a shirt or a sock first to prevent gouging. The pins themselves are pretty cheap (around $5-10 for plastic ones IIRC). Also, pushing more of the string into the guitar will loosen the tension between the pin and the string. It can be tough to do on the thinner strings, but works great for the lower ones.
russb7 years ago
For stringing classical (nylon string) guitars, there's a great tutorial